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United Surprise At Arsenal’s Season

Silvestre“Name on the trophy” the commentator boomed that night at the Nou Camp. It was all ours. United fans would be forgiven for feeling the same way about the Premiership at the start of this season. We’d seen off Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea the season before, leading the table from the beginning, Arsenal were a team of youngsters and had just got rid of their best player, and Liverpool had finished twenty points behind us, signing Torres, a striker who couldn’t even score a substantial amount in Spain, where players like Forlan score for fun.

In contrast, we’d added the talents of Hargreaves, Tevez, Nani and Anderson to our squad. It certainly did feel like a “name on the trophy” moment, but it was before the season had even begun. After three years of feeling self conscious and nervous in the pre-season, not wanting to believe the decline of Manchester United had begun, like the press and rival fans told us it had, we were back to our usual cocky selves.

Things haven’t gone entirely to plan though, however. Arsenal are flying high, as able to grind out results as they are playing great football, and seemingly not even aware Thierry Henry has gone. Liverpool are doing as badly as I expected they would, but no thanks to Torres, who has proved the doubters like me wrong. If only his manager could see that as well! To add to the list of things we would never predict, Chelsea appointing a halfwit ogre to take the place of the not so ‘special one’ certainly has to get a mention.

United didn’t have the start they’d dreamed of, losing on derby day and drawing to Portsmouth and Reading, but the self consciousness of years gone by didn’t return. Sure, there were a few blushes about our arrogance, when it appeared United weren’t the machine we thought they were going to be, but I’d like to think all reds knew we were going to turn things around. And that we have. I can’t quite believe we are within just two points of Arsenal after our unnerving start!

One man who has watched more of United than he would have liked is Mikael Silvestre, who has been cheering us on from the sidelines instead of playing on the field due to a knee injury. Silvestre played his last game for United back in September, being forced off before the end of the first half in our match against Everton. He is due to return in March, but in the meantime, has to take a backseat in United’s charge to retain their title.

Today, Silvestre talked about his shock to see Arsenal doing so well in the league, making it through to the half way stage and still at the summit. The man who was shown the read card with twenty minutes left to play, after headbutting Ljungberg in our 4-2 victory at Highbury, recognises the experience this young side has gathered already. “I am surprised to see Arsenal doing so well, like a lot of people simply because they are a young team,” Silvestre said. “They are young, but if look at them they all have good experience in the Premier League.”

However, Silvestre goes on to claim the lads have every confidence to retain their title, and take the Champions League with it. “We are again competing for the championship,” he said. “I think the club has done some great signings to improve the quality of the team, which gives us a lot of confidence to win the league again, and the Champions League.”

United or Arsenal? Who will be top come May?

About Scott

Scott is the editor of Red Matters - 50 Years of Supporting Manchester United and an author of Play Like Fergie's Boys and Not Nineteen Forever. He writes for ESPN, The Metro and Bleacher Report. Follow @R_o_M on Twitter.

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  1. Zae says:

    I have a very bad feelin’ about the title and it has only one reason: that bloody Gallas equaliser back in November. I think they would have collapsed if we had won that game and we would be probably 8-10 points clear by now.

    We can retain the title but it will be close, much closer than you would think on the basis of the two squads’s strength.

  2. Stephen says:

    It will be intersting to see how Arse get on without Toure and Eboue. Senderos suffered last season and Walcott seems to be out of favour this.

    We must stop dropping silly points and mediocre teams if we stop that we will be fine.

  3. Tom F says:

    I’m sure you’ve said something to upset a gooner somewhere in that blog, not sure what, but I’m sure you have!

    I think the next 6 weeks are a big sign for the title, we’ll see Arsenal and Chelsea at their weakest. If they do win the title I couldn’t really complain, their title charge so far stinks badly of our run last season. Not heavily investing in new signings and sticking to the younger players shine, Ruud and Keane had gone, where was our play going to come from and all the other doubts and they are not just outscoring opponents, they are sweeping them aside and like you say they are even winning games they do’t deserve to, title form.

    Saying that, we did start pretty badly. I had people who are United fans telling me United would finish outide the top three, so after our run of 1 – 0 wins it is good to look back over the first half of the season to see how many times we have scored 4 in a game as well as look at our defence. We are very strong, last year for us is like Arsenal this season. Their fans probably didn’t have any expectations and this season I am very confident of my team.

  4. JamesGreece says:

    Arsenal stand no chance. It needs more than attractive football to win the title, and we have it. It will be close though, since Arsenal have the momentum right now and, indeed, that Gallas goal was important, not as 1 point for Arsenal but as a boost for them. One or two bad results and they’re gone. We need to keep winning.

  5. denton davey says:

    I wrote a comment about this a couple of weeks ago – the Arse have been surprising, especially Hleb and the glue added to their team defence by Gallas.

    What also needs saying is that they’re damned lucky – today v. Spurs they were largely outplayed at home but got a deflected goal to tie the game. A goal that was deflected off Walcott’s arm !

    I had thought that they’d probably end up with 75 points but they’ve been able to get through some tricky fixtures – with luck, of course (i.e., Robbie Keane’s penalty miss a few weeks ago that gave the gooners life). To their credit, they’ve been able to capitalize on their luck.

    Chel$ki have shown tremendous determination and back-to-the-wall spirit through a terrible run of injuries and this silly African Cup schlomozzle. IF the RentBoyz can be close by the end of February then I am expecting them to be in the hunt, too.

    Lastly, I wouldn’t think that I am the only UTDfan who has been puzzled by TheLads incredibly inconsistent form.

  6. Nikelesh reddy says:

    Well,to be honest,i have actually heard and read a lot of people comparing arsenal this season to us last season.To be honest,i actually think thats just bull s*it!!!We were a much more experienced team than arsenal last year as well.We had players like scholsey,giggsey,neville,wes,rio who were all experienced and who knew how to win the league.How many arsenal players have “premiership winning” experience?Many people have asked me”Well,how come chelsea won the league without any such players”?The answer is quite simple.In the first two seasons,chelsea were not involved in a TITLE RACE.They were involved in one title race and we all know what happened.I can see a similar thing happening with arsenal.I cant see there squad lasting and keeping up this momentum till may.We will be champions again!!!

  7. John Tring says:

    Just a small worry: SAF’s defiance to admit that we are a good striker short. To see O’shea come on when a goal is badly needed is just pathetic and desperate. I truly believe EPL title may not be a major problem ( Gooners’ luck can’t run forever) but sadly I don’t think the squad is good enough for UCL, not until a Berbatov comes onboard and a top right back arrives. Sorry, but we shall see in May ’08..hope I’m proven wrong and nobody will be happier than me…


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